Jacqueline Gagne has had 10 once-in-a-lifetime experiences in less than four months.
Since Jan. 23, the 46-year-old from Rancho Mirage, Calif., has hit 10 holes in one, or just eight fewer than were hit on the entire Ladies Professional Golf Association tour last year.
Her local paper, the Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif., has corroborated Ms. Gagne's feat, running notes alongside articles from editors saying they're just as skeptical as readers, but everything has checked out.
The paper also asked a local statistician, Michael McJilton of the College of the Desert, to compute the odds against the feat. The result, which headlined the article: 113,527,276,681,000,000 to 1. And that was after just seven aces. I asked Mr. McJilton to repeat the computation after Ms. Gagne hit three more in the following couple of weeks, over a total of just 75 rounds. He returned the astronomical number of roughly 12 septillion (12 followed by 24 zeroes) to 1. Such an unlikely event should never happen. It's like winning the lottery four straight times. No wonder David Letterman came calling.
St. Andrews, Augusta and Royal Melbourne are my three favorite courses in the world. Like St. Andrews and Augusta you can slam it anywhere off the tee at Royal Melbourne and you can still get to the greens but the putting is going to be crazy if you play it that way. It is really so dangerous around the greens and you can make a bogey from anywhere. And when the wind blows it's, "Oh my God! How do I manage this course?" FRED COUPLES
Thanks to reader John for this Tim Carroll story in the WSJ's weekend report on the art of warming up, or in Mac O'Grady's case, not hitting balls before the round.
Tim Rosaforte's online column looks at Oakmont and the potential conditions for this year's Open.
"I was just there Sunday-Monday, and it's more lush than I think we'd kind of hoped," said Mike Davis, the course set-up man for the USGA. Davis sent correspondence to Zimmers, telling him to send out the mowers once it stops raining. Last year at Winged Foot, the first step in the graduated rough was 3 ½ to 4 inches. He asked Zimmers to trim that first cut to 2 ¾ inches. The goal is to make it short enough so the players can show their skills. The week of the tournament, "It could be higher, it could be lower," said Davis.Yes, that 6 inches right off the fairway is such a good test especially when...
This doesn't sit too well at Oakmont, a club that prides itself on sending its guests home feeling the privilege of being penalized by its brutality. "I've never seen an Open here at Oakmont where it wasn't six-inch rough right off the fairway," said the host pro, Bob Ford. "So if it's playable just off the fairway, I think it will have a great effect on the score. Again, it's all about wet and dry: If it's wet it's going to be one score, if it's dry, it's going to be another score. That's true on all golf courses, but particularly here."
Some of the club's members--guys who play in the Swat competitions--are predicting that if the course plays hard and fast, double digits will win The Open. The reason being, Oakmont's fairways were running about 11 on the Stimp after Zimmers put the rollers on them. The average fairway width at Oakmont will be 28 yards, but as one of the club's scratch players pointed out on Thursday, some of the tighter driving holes are only 22 yards wide in spots. But those 22 yards really play 10 yards wide because most of the landing areas tilt and pitch toward the deep stuff.
"Some of the fairway are really tight, and to be honest, one of my concerns is that they get too fast," Davis said. "They've got so much roll, that if they get too fast it's not going to be a good Open. We don't want it turning into '87 at [The] Olympic [Club]. We're going to ask John to hand water the drive zones to keep good drives from rolling into the intermediate rough."
On top of this, the participants will be putting on greens that Zimmers gets rolling at 15 for the year-end Swat Party.
That tells you who the best player is!
Is it me or do these numbers sound
inflated high? 3.2 million unique visitors? Did that many people watch on television!? Or, to put it another way, why didn't millions more watch based on these numbers?
PGATOUR.com Drives Record Numbers
Fans flock to PGATOUR.com’s exclusive LIVE@ THE PLAYERS coverage of the famous 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL -- PGATOUR.com’s exclusive live coverage of the competition set records for the LIVE@ series. Golf fans have embraced the LIVE@ series, PGATOUR.com’s free, live video streaming coverage of every shot from a signature hole at top PGA TOUR events. PGATOUR.com’s LIVE@ THE PLAYERS streamed all the action from the legendary 17th island hole from THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Results from the week include:
- Over 1.1 million video streams for LIVE@ THE PLAYERS, at an average duration of 25 minutes
- Over 3.2 million unique users and 4.7 million visits, generating over 70 million page views, all up from 2006
- Nearly 2.2 million video starts
“This is exciting news for us. These figures demonstrate that PGATOUR.com is a mainstream medium for event coverage; there is a significant fan value for compelling online tournament coverage,” said Lee Bushkell, General Manager, PGATOUR.com. “PGATOUR.com provided over 40 hours of exclusive live coverage of THE PLAYERS, complementing the PGA TOUR’s expanded television coverage on GOLF Channel and NBC.”
“The success of LIVE@THE PLAYERS further establishes the public’s desire for compelling and cutting-edge sports coverage online,” said Scott Bailey, VP/GM of Turner Sports New Media. “We’re thrilled with the success of LIVE@THE PLAYERS and look forward to continued growth throughout the remainder of the LIVE@ series.”
LIVE@ THE PLAYERS is the fourth of 10 scheduled LIVE@ series events in 2007. The next LIVE@ series event will be LIVE@ the Memorial, highlighting Muirfield Village Golf Club’s 12th hole, May 31-June 3. Other scheduled events include LIVE@ The Buick Open and all four events in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup. “PGATOUR.com is all about the fans, and the site’s continued growth shows that we are providing quality coverage that enhances their golf experience,” said Bushkell.
Is there weren't enough problems with Boston's "Big Dig," check out this WBZ-TV news story noticed by reader Mike on driving ranges built inside the tunnels for police and construction worker use.
At least someone in Boston has their priorities straight!
Geoff Ogilvy's "Golf Digest Interview" seems shorter than some of the past incarnations of these always enjoyable chats, especially since just as it ended it felt like things were really rolling. Still, there's still plenty of good stuff to consider.
John Huggan asks the questions and as usual, Ogilvy has a fresh take on the still interesting subject of American golf and the dreaded state of our under-30 set:
There is a contrast right now between Europe and the U.S. when it comes to developing young players.
That's true. I know the U.S. press is looking for the next great American under 30.
Is it just cyclical?
It's an expensive sport in the U.S. It's cheaper in Australia, or the U.K. or South Africa. Anyone can play.
I do think that the American college system is really good at producing guys who can get the ball in the hole, but it neglects the technical aspects of golf. They're looking for the wrong things. I'm not saying the American guys aren't talented; all I'm saying is that some talent is getting missed.
If the Americans sorted their system out, we'd have only five on the PGA Tour [a dozen Aussies are among the top 100 of the World Golf Ranking]. We get more out of our talent than they get out of theirs. Their way of doing things can't be better than ours, because we have 20 million people and they have 300 million. It just doesn't add up.
Given the enormous influx of Australians on the PGA Tour, why hasn't a college coach wondered why and gotten himself down to the VIS [Victorian Institute of Sport] to have a look?
What is that, exactly?
If you go way back to the early 1980s, the Australian government realized we weren't winning any gold medals in anything. Or hardly any. For such a proud sporting nation, that was unacceptable. So the Australian Institute of Sport was started, mainly for Olympic sports. We did well in Atlanta [nine gold medals in the 1996 Olympics], and Sydney [16 golds in 2000] was amazing. And we did even better in Athens [17 golds in 2004]. It's crazy how well we do for such a small nation.
How did golf become a part of that?
The Victorian government decided to supplement it with an institute. Golf kind of came along for the ride. The deal was that you got a scholarship for a year. You got access to the top coaches. You got physical training and nutritional advice. Anything that was going to help make you better.
If I had to sum it up, I'd say that they basically took the best boy and girl players in Victoria and gave them access to all the experts in Victoria--for free. It was brilliant, really. And the bonus was funding for travel.
The best part of it was that they never dictated where you went or how you went about things. They would simply make everyone and everything available to you and let you get on with it. You had to make your own way. And you got time to ride out any bad periods of play.
From Arnold Palmer's "My Shot" as told to Golf Digest's Guy Yocom...
It's pretty well known that Ben Hogan didn't bond with anyone, but I have to say, he was particularly chilly to me. He very pointedly referred to me as "Fellah," even face to face. I just accepted it, and in the end he wasn't my type of guy anyway. I wasn't a special case; he didn't bond with Nelson or Snead, either. He was cordial to them but never was close to either man. He never grew close to any golfer, with the possible exceptions of Jackie Burke and Jimmy Demaret. For all of the talk of my rivalry with Jack Nicklaus, at heart we truly like each other. I can't say the same for Ben Hogan and me.
"Increasing brand awareness and consideration while activating our golf platform on a national scale"
Wouldn't you just love to be in on the meetings that conjured up reasons 1-6 why the Colonial will be must TiVo and fast forward viewing?
Oh, the six reasons being those lame, Man-law wannabe ads for Crown Plaza. What's more tortuous, the press release or the actual ads? Let's start with the release...
Unscripted Meeting of Golf Greats and Celebrities Lends Humor to a 'Good Walk Spoiled'
ATLANTA, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Two professional golfers, two golf journalists, one Latino comic and a heavy metal rocker arrive at a meeting room ... the set-up for a comedy skit? Nope, it's the setting for Crowne Plaza(R) Hotels & Resorts' first national television advertising campaign. Slated to debut April 12, the multi-million dollar TV and online campaign features national golf commentator/journalist David Feherty attempting to moderate an entirely unscripted conversation amongst TV personality and golf fanatic George Lopez, shock-rocker and avid golfer Alice Cooper,
golf-great Lee Trevino, LPGA star Natalie Gulbis, and outspoken golf scribe Dan Jenkins.
Branded as "The Place to Meet," Crowne Plaza assembled these six seemingly disparate personalities in a Crowne Plaza meeting room to showcase the brand's new golf affinity marketing program, the cornerstone of which is the title sponsorship of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial PGA TOUR golf tournament.
Somehow I never thought I'd associate Lee Trevino or Dan Jenkins with a "golf affinity marketing program."
"Golf has long served as the informal 'place to meet,' so developing a golf platform was a natural way to further align our meetings focus with our customers' interests and hobbies," said Kevin Kowalski, vice president, brand management, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts.
"Our new ad campaign further emphasizes our focus as 'The Place the Meet,' increasing brand awareness and consideration while activating our golf platform on a national scale," Kowalski added. "By showcasing highly entertaining dialogue among some of golf's most unique personalities in a Crowne Plaza setting, we'll entertain our core target - who share a love of golf - and bring to life our meeting room experience in a bold, new way."
And just one of these lovely spots...
...good news, you now have a place to land. I know you've been on pins and needles. Though for those of you with an early tee time who hoped to shuttle in from Nemacolin Woodlands, I think there might be a problem.
Mr. Walker said his service would shuttle people primarily from Pittsburgh International Airport to Plum, but that he also had had inquiries from Nemacolin Woodlands resort and other sites.
The service's helicopter will be permitted to fly in and out of the site, a commercially zoned area at 2015 Eastern Ave., near the Pennsylvania Turnpike, between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. throughout June.
The Journal News' Sam Weinman has a good feel for the Westchester CC-PGA Tour situation, and blogs about it and about being slightly scooped by Damon Hack in the New York Times:
I’ve been following the tour’s tenuous relationship with Westchester pretty much since I started writing about golf in the late 90s, and the same fundamentals still apply. The two parties love to squalk about each other—Westchester members lamenting the inconvenience of the event, the tour lamenting Westchester’s high-maintenance membership—and yet they can’t seem to live without each other.
In some ways, this deal is a match made in heaven. Westchester still has the prestige of hosting a PGA Tour event (a FedEx Cup playoff event no less!), but doesn’t have to do it on an annual basis. Meanwhile the tour can try to capitalize on other pockets of the New York market—I haven’t been to Liberty National but I’ve only heard good things—but can also consistently return to a traditional venue that many of its players still revere.
It seems the Tour's strategy is not to get away from Westchester or the Western but to give the playoffs more excitement by injecting fresh venues. I like the idea of placing an emphasis on architecture and varying setups, though I could also see the merits of returning to the same courses each year too in order to build "tradition." Thoughts?
From John Hawkins' Golf World Players game story:
"Tiger will love this--absolutely love it," Harmon said of Lefty's success at Sawgrass. "It's going to motivate him to get better, and that will be fun to see."
Which one is Stack and which one is Tilt? Oh wait, that's the method they're teaching. I was thinking of Bored and Grouchy over at GolfDigest.com.
I'm curious what you all think of the hottest teachers in the game, Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett, and their "Stack and Tilt" method that Golf Digest is humping the daylights out of in the June issue. And Bob Carney followed up in the editor's blog.
It seems (to me) anyway that someone has finally taken what Mac O'Grady has been teaching for years, tweaked it a bit and simplified the message? No?
Good to see the May date was validated...
NBC reported an overnight rating of 3.7 and a 9 share for Sunday's final round, in which Phil Mickelson won his first Players with a closing 69. Mickelson and Sean O'Hair were locked in a battle for the lead until Mickelson took a two-shot lead on the 11th hole, and O'Hair hit two balls in the water at the par-3 17th hole.
The network estimated that the rating equated to more than 4 million households tuned into the telecast at some point during the final round, and more than 8.6 million viewers.
"We're very pleased, especially since there was some unexpected competition from NASCAR, when their race was rained out Saturday. That won't happen every year," said Edward L. Moorhouse, co-chief operating officer of the PGA Tour.
"We also got a big break on the weather, and we had one of our marquee players in a very exciting finish. And some of our other players, such as Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal, playing very well down the stretch. We think all of the changes we made contributed to the high ratings."
Now Ed, I don't think the Taj Mahal clubhouse added viewers. Then again there were a lot of flatscreens in there tuned to the golf.
Thanks to reader Steve for picking up the highlights of Seve's pre-Champions Tour debut conference call:
I will do my best, but I don't want you guys to have too much expectations from me. Obviously from time to time there will be one great shot here, one great shot there, but nothing that you haven't seen before.And on Sergio...
It's been a long time. It's been a long time, but it's been a short time at the same time (laughing) because it's unbelievable how quickly the time goes by, you know? They say that it's like you're going to bed -- it's like a dream. Life is like a dream. You go to bed and you wake up with age. I don't know if that's a good translation, but we say that in Spain. Life is a dream. You know, you go to bed and you wake up with age. That's exactly what happened.
In one way it looks like it's been many, many years, and on the other hand it looks like it was yesterday when I joined the TOUR, you know? Time goes by very quickly for everybody. For everybody.
Q. You look like you're in the same shape you were when you were winning the British Open and The Masters. What have you done to prepare for this tournament and to get ready to come out here?
SEVE BALLESTEROS: (Laughing) well, thank you for that compliment. I wish you were right (laughter).
As you say, his putting is not very consistent. He's very young, you know, and he nearly won the TPC last week. You know, he has plenty of time ahead to win a major. But remember, to win a major, there's only four per year, and it's not easy. In fact, neither have the Europeans; they haven't won a major championship for the last four years. I'm wondering what the hell is going on there (laughter).
You know, we've been beating the Americans quite easily, but when they compete in the majors, they -- I don't know. They can't win. Something is not right there. I don't know what.
Tuesday two council members asked that the city of Fresno pitch in $1.2 million to sponsor it.
The city council says 90 golfers have committed to coming to town for the tournament in October.
Monday night the City of Clovis pledged $24,000 for the tournament.
Council member Larry Westerlund says Fresno could see a $30 million economic impact from the event, a return That would far outweigh the investment.
The council admitted it's been hard to find sponsors since plans for the original location at Running Horse Golf Course began falling apart.
Council members are asking for a special meeting to address the $1.2 million pledge.
Damon Hack, quoting Tim Finchem on the Barclay's "playoff" event moving from Westchester to Liberty National in 2009:
“With camera angles, 4,000 feet on the water and the Statue of Liberty very much a part of the landscape, it will look more like New York to the rest of the country when it’s on television. The golf course was built with hospitality in mind, and I think it will be a nice move in 2009.”
I've always said, strategy, greens, angles mean nothign if you don't build with hospitality in mind! And from Bob Cupp, with modesty:
“Players, deep down, love to compete on hard golf courses, and the Tour likes to see 30-mile-an-hour winds,” Cupp said. “The course has places to make birdies and places to make a bunch of ‘others.’ It’s a course that has every shot.”
Oh they're going to love this!
Thanks to reader Michael for this.
The USA Today's Jerry Potter files this downer on the lack of interest in the FedEx Cup:
That's the problem PGA Tour executives have identified with the season-long points system that will set up a four-event season-ending playoff with a $10 million first-place prize: Neither the players nor the media are talking it up. No one, in fact, seems to be talking about the FedExCup except PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.Hmm...not sure about this baseball analogy.
Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports, said Tuesday that was to be expected. He has seen this scenario before, notably with Major League Baseball and NASCAR. NBC will televise the final three events of the season, or three of the four events that make up the playoff that ends in mid-September with The Tour Championship in Atlanta.
"All of what we say now is speculation," he says. "We won't know about the Cup's impact until we get through the season, and we may not know then."
Schanzer and NBC were involved when baseball expanded to division playoffs, and they were involved when NASCAR went to the Chase for the Nextel Cup, the model for golf's system.
"I told Bud Selig (baseball's commissioner) and Brian France (NASCAR's president) to get ready for a lot of criticism," he says of the first year of changes in baseball and NASCAR. "I told them at the end of the first year it will either work or it won't work. There's no way to know. All you can know is that it makes a lot of sense."
Those changes have worked for baseball and NASCAR, creating more interest. The PGA Tour is different because it has long been driven by the four major championships. The Masters is past, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship come in June, July and August, respectively.Oh dear Lord.
Ric Clarson, the Tour's senior vice president for brand development, says two big events played in consecutive weeks — the Aug. 2-5 Bridgestone Invitational and Aug. 9-12 PGA Championship — will heighten focus because combined they'll award 15% more points.
"We're positioning them as the 15th and 16th games of the NFL season," he said. "Those games determine who gets in the playoff and who has home-field advantage."
Last week at The Players Championship, Finchem repeated his refrain that the system is a plus for the Tour, its players, sponsors and tournaments.Oh? Uh, not really...
"We have to get people engaged in the playoffs," he says.
One positive sign for Finchem came Tuesday.
Corey Pavin said the FedExCup might give a lift to the July 19-22 U.S. Bank Championship, which is played in Milwaukee opposite the British Open. Players who don't qualify for the Open, he suggested, might come to Milwaukee to play for positioning in the FedExCup standings instead of taking the weekend off.
"If they need to play some more, they're going to add more tournaments in to make sure they get up as high on that list as they can get," said Pavin, the defending champ.
Yes, a very positive sign. I take it today was U.S. Bank Media Day?
Trophy Club tickets available for AmEx cardholders...I know you all were dying to buy into the Trophy Club. Whatever that is.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AMERICAN EXPRESS OFFERS EXCLUSIVE TICKET SALES
FOR 2008 U.S. OPEN® GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP AT TORREY PINES
New York, NY (May 14, 2007) – Beginning May 15 and only through June 17, American Express ® Cardmembers will have the exclusive opportunity to purchase daily Trophy Club tickets to the 2008 U.S. Open ® to be held June 9-15, 2008 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California. Traditionally sold in weekly packages and only available to USGA members or through a random drawing, American Express is providing its Cardmembers with unique access to one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments of the year. Each Trophy Club ticket gains access to the grounds at the Championship course and entry into the exclusive onsite Trophy Club facility. Tickets are available to purchase with the American Express Card or with Membership Rewards® points. Beginning May 15, information on tickets can be found at www.americanexpress.com/entertainment.In 2006, American Express became the first-ever corporate partner of the United States Golf Association, demonstrating its commitment to grow awareness of the sport and bring excitement to the game. American Express has been connected to the game of golf for more than 50 years and brings a premium level of customer service and unique benefits and experiences to its Cardmembers who are golf enthusiasts. Additionally, the company has an existing portfolio of contributions to the golf lifestyle, including specially-designed travel packages, equipment and apparel offers through the Membership Rewards program and a dedicated golf magazine.
This sounds like a
nice tradeout with equipment manufacturers doozy...
And here's why...
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 15, 2007
The PGA TOUR Brings You the Science of Golf, Presented by IBM
2-Part CBS Special Shares How Modern Technology Has Impacted the Game of Golf
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – A new two-part special, produced by PGA TOUR Productions in association with CBS Sports, will explore and explain the critical role science plays in the modern game of golf. Science of Golf, Presented by IBM will take you from the high-tech world of building equipment, to the unique teaching methods used by the game’s greatest teachers, to the importance of physical fitness during two one-hour programs.
Produced in High Definition, the Science of Golf, Presented by IBM will air Saturday, May 19th from 2-3 p.m. and on Sunday, May 27th from 2-3 p.m. on CBS. Part one of the series, Science of Golf – Power Game will put the full golf swing under the microscope. Utilizing computer animations as well as interviews from TOUR players, golf teachers and fitness instructors, you’ll see how the human body works in unison to complete the golf swing.
Eighty percent of the strokes golfers lose to par are determined by their play within 100 yards of the green. Unlike the power game, the short game has many more intricate components and variables which will cause golfers to fail. Part two of the series, Science of Golf – Short Game will delve into the force of the swing, impact of ball position and getting the ball to stop suddenly. How the body and mind work in unison to perform under pressure as well as the nuances which go into improving your short game will be examined.
“Shot exclusively in High Definition, the Science of Golf two-part series will show how the best players on the PGA TOUR utilize cutting edge technology to elevate their game to the highest level,” said Gil Kerr, Senior Vice President of Broadcasting, Programming & Production for the PGA TOUR. “This has never been done before.
“We went inside the laboratories of virtually every major golf equipment manufacturer,” Kerr continued. “We sat down with the best swing coaches in the game today – including Butch Harmon, Hank Haney, David Leadbetter, Jim McClean, Jim Flick and Dave Pelz – and we have combined this with the best of the PGA TOUR archives and never before seen super slow motion footage to capture how the best players in the game utilize science and technology on and off the course. Anyone who wants to understand how the science of the game can help you add power off the tee, attack the pin or improve your short game, will really enjoy these two specials on CBS.”
A video preview of Science of Golf, Presented by IBM is available at http://www.pgatour.com/tv-times/
Oh yeah, the PGA Tour will take a stand on equipment regulation!